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- Best shampoos: Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Daily Shampoo
- Best conditioner: John Frieda Volume Lift Weightless Conditioner
- Best supplements: Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement, Nutrafol Women Nutraceutical Supplement
- Best topical treatments: Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol, OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Anti-Breakage Serum, Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
Hair loss isn’t anything unusual — in fact, the average person loses about 50 to 100 hairs per day! But if you’re a parent-to-be (or a new parent), you may notice stark changes in your hair that you didn’t sign up for.
After pregnancy, you may notice your hair is shedding more than it usually does. This is because, during pregnancy, many people have fuller hair due to a
First order of business: Take a deep breath, and know that you’re definitely not alone.
In pregnancy, a lot of women experience thicker, shinier, and healthier hair overall — this is due to increased hormone levels which slow down the rate of hair loss, explains Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist at Northeast Dermatology Associates in Boston, Massachusetts.
“Although women aren’t necessarily growing many more strands of hair, they’re keeping more of them,” she says.
But that often changes around 3 to 6 months postpartum, when hormone levels decrease and those extra hairs the body was holding onto start shedding. Sleepless nights and stressful days spent calming a fussy newborn certainly don’t help your hair return to normal, either.
Postpartum hair loss is usually temporary, but it can temporarily leave you with thinning hair and baby hairs along the hairline that can be difficult to style. If the hair loss is not related to any other medical condition, the hair will grow back — but it could take a year or more.
Luckily, there are a handful of products out there that can help combat pesky side effects of postpartum hair loss. Here are some of the best on the market that dermatologists recommend to their new-parent patients.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$30
- $$$ = $30–$50
- $$$$ = over $50
According to Marina Peredo, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, this lightweight shampoo from ISDIN helps revitalize and nourish thinning hair without weighing it down.
“This shampoo is specially formulated with film-forming and conditioning ingredients such as zinc, biotin, and ginkgo biloba, to strengthen your hair and leave it feeling soft without a greasy residue,” she says.
One negative to note is that while this product is intended to be used regularly to stimulate the scalp and encourage hair growth, it’s on the expensive side for a shampoo.
This tried-and-true shampoo isn’t only useful for fighting dandruff — its key ingredient, pyrithione zinc (ZPT), has deep-cleaning properties that can also help with hair loss, notes Gabriel. The ingredient targets the fungus that causes dandruff to flare up.
Head & Shoulders is a well-known brand of dandruff shampoo that’s easy to find. So if you travel to visit grandparents or elsewhere, you can likely track it down in a travel size and find it in grocery stores in your destination, making it easy to sustain use. (But make sure you consult your pediatrician before traveling with your baby, as their immune systems are still developing after birth.)
When searching for a conditioner to help thicken postpartum hair, Zenovia Gabriel, MD, a dermatologist based in Newport Beach, California, suggests opting for one that’s lightweight to avoid weighing it down — like this one from John Freida.
One of the key ingredients in this conditioner is caffeine, which helps support hair growth in a gentle manner, so it’s safe (and well-priced) for everyday use.
And if you’re a whole-package kind of person, start with the brand’s shampoo.
According to all three dermatologists we spoke with, this supplement has shown to yield impressive results in postpartum people.
Viviscal is made up of a combination of vitamins, minerals, and a marine complex. It’s best taken twice daily for about 3 to 6 months and can be used simultaneously with the brand’s volumizing and thickening products to help hair feel thicker in the interim.
Considerations: This is an oral supplement that may not be suitable for those who are breastfeeding. (You should always ask your OB-GYN before taking any supplement while breastfeeding.) Reviewers also comment on unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea and nausea and that it takes about 3 months to see results.
Nutrafol consists of plant-based ingredients and marine collagen (which the brand stresses is sourced from North Atlantic cod, as opposed to more at-risk marine life like sharks).
“It contains all natural ingredients that work to balance dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone involved in some cases of male-or-female pattern baldness,” explains Rina Allawh, MD, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Considerations: Like Viviscal, Nutrafol may not be suitable for use in breastfeeding (or pregnant) women, as well as those with medical conditions that require the use of blood-thinning drugs. Also, a few reviewers comment on symptoms of nausea, frustrating packaging, and a high price tag.
A note on safety
As they’re not regulated by the FDA, oral supplements are tricky. Before taking any sort of supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to consult a lactation specialist or your OB-GYN.
This FDA-approved treatment may work wonders for your postpartum hair loss. It helps increase the duration of the hair growth phase, but also increases your hair’s density by gradually enlarging the miniaturized hair follicles to mature thicker terminal hairs, explains Allawh.
“Despite initial shedding, consistent use of Rogaine for months has been shown to have favorable results for both sexes,” she says. “In fact, Rogaine works so well that I caution my patients to avoid application on areas that they don’t want hair growth (i.e. face).”
Considerations: There’s some speculation over whether minoxidil, the main ingredient in Rogaine, is safe for women who are breastfeeding. However, the
For thinned hair that’s susceptible to breakage, Allawh says this serum from OGX can be a real game-changer by fighting frizz and restoring hydration to dry hair.
“It’s light, nongreasy, and adds a nice shine to the hair,” she adds.
It’s worth noting that dry hair can also be caused by a variety of factors unrelated to hormones, including over-processing with color, using heat styling tools too often, as well as exposing hair to the elements such as the sun and water. If you’re prone to breakage and split ends, this product could be helpful even past postpartum.
This one didn’t come dermatologist recommended, but hairstylists rave about Olaplex for its ability to strengthen and repair even the most damaged hair — and I can attest, it brought my hair back to life postpartum!
It’s a concentrated treatment meant to be used before you shampoo and condition your hair that helps build back and re-fuse the bonds of the hair, leading to smoother, thicker-appearing and healthier hair overall.
It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, so if you prioritize those things in your hair products, it fits the bill.
Postpartum hair loss might be common, but that doesn’t make it any less frightening. According to a
Shedding can last for months, and it generally peaks around 4 months after giving birth, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Most people will see an improvement within the first year of giving birth.
However, the AAD suggests visiting your doctor if it’s been about a year and your hair hasn’t returned to its usual fullness. This may signal there’s something else causing you to lose hair.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
Often, hair loss following pregnancy isn’t actually “hair loss” at all — it’s just excessive shedding, according to the AAD. This excessive shedding usually starts sometime within a few months after having a baby.
How long it lasts will vary from person to person, but according to the AAD, most people see their hair return to its normal fullness and volume by their baby’s first birthday — and many will see it revert to sometime before the year mark.
Can you regrow your hair after postpartum hair loss?
Your hair may have been fuller than typical throughout pregnancy due to estrogen levels. After you give birth, your estrogen levels will fall, causing the hair that you had retained throughout pregnancy to fall out. That’s why the process is often considered shedding, not actual loss.
With time, your hair should return to its usual fullness — as in, its pre-pregnancy level.
Do prenatal vitamins help with postpartum hair loss?
There’s little to no evidence that supports taking prenatal vitamins to prevent postpartum hair loss. However, that doesn’t diminish the importance of taking prenatal vitamins.
When you’re pregnant, your body has drastically different needs for various vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. The
Your obstetrician can give you guidance on which supplements you need to take, and when to start them during — or even before — pregnancy.
Experiencing hair thinning or hair loss might seem like a small price to pay for bringing your incredible, tiny human into the world — but that’s not to say it’s not frustrating.
Luckily, depending on what you’re willing to spend (money and time), there are products on the market that might help return some normalcy to your locks.